The United States is proposing significant increases to its aid packages for Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in the hopes that stabilizing those countries will enhance US efforts to defeat the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. More broadly, however, regional experts say the aid amounts that Washington is extending to the countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia in 2009 are insufficient to secure desired US diplomatic objectives in those regions.
Under the Obama administration's proposed budget for the State Department, economic aid to Kyrgyzstan will increase from $24.4 million this year to $41.5 million in the coming fiscal year, which begins on October 1. Aid to Tajikistan would rise from $25.2 million to $46.5 million.
Military aid to the two countries, while still relatively small, would increase as well under the new budget. Kyrgyzstan would get $2.9 million under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, which allows the recipient countries to pay for weapons and other equipment, compared to $800,000 this year. Tajikistan's FMF package would double - going from $750,000 to $1.5 million.
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Joshua Kucera is a Washington, DC,-based freelance writer who specializes in security issues in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East.